Why is high blood pressure during pregnancy a problem?
High blood pressure during pregnancy can cause the following problems for you and your baby:
- Chronic hypertension: High blood pressure can make your baby grow too slowly, or not get enough nutrients or oxygen. This can hurt your baby's health. Women who have chronic hypertension are also more likely to develop PIH, which can be very dangerous.
- Gestational hypertension: This condition does not cause any problems for you or your baby, but it can increase the risk that you will develop high blood pressure later in life. Gestational hypertension can also turn into PIH.
- PIH: High blood pressure is not the main problem, but it is one of the main signs of this health condition. PIH can cause headaches, blurred vision, vision loss, abdominal pain and dizziness. It can cause slow growth of the baby, low birth weight and premature delivery. If you get PIH with seizures (called eclampsia), you and your baby are at risk of dying. Many doctors give magnesium sulfate to their patients during labor and for a few days afterward to help prevent eclampsia. Talk to your doctor about these things.
NHBPEP Report on High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy: A Summary for Family Physicians by MA Zamorski, M.D., M.H.S.A. and LA Green, M.D., M.P.H. (American Family Physician July 15, 2001, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20010715/263.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff